January 31, 1930: 3M Introduces Scotch Tape

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A Brief History

On January 31, 1930, the 3M Company (then going by the name of Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing) revealed Scotch Tape.  This product, consisting of clear cellophane tape with a pressure-sensitive adhesive on one side, would become a household and office necessity.

Digging Deeper

3M has since ridden the success of Scotch Tape to produce many products bearing the Scotch brand that have nothing to do with the original product, one example being the stain repellent Scotchguard.  3M first began advertising with the familiar tartan plaid (Wallace type) in 1945.  Today, many manufacturers produce adhesive tape, but most folks generically call these products “Scotch Tape” as well.  (Same as the Kleenex phenomenon.) 

Pressure-sensitive or adhesive tape was invented by a surgeon in 1845, presumably for medical applications.  Since then, all sorts of material have been used as tape, with just as many types of adhesive.  These include: medical adhesive tape which comes in both cloth and plastic varieties; package-sealing tape; metal tape, iron-on hem tape; electrical tape; friction tape; sports grip tape; and, of course, the greatest friend of men everywhere, duct tape, which men use to fix EVERYTHING!

Some types of tape have to be moistened for the adhesive to work, while other types have to be heated.  Some types come with a layer over the sticky side that must be peeled off before use.  There are even double-sided sticky tapes for a variety of uses.

A simple roll of electrical tape, or insulating tape, in your glove compartment, tool box, tackle box, kitchen drawer or pocket can save a life as a temporary wound binder, can temporarily fix a leaky pipe or hose, can be used to make emergency repairs on clothing (especially raincoats), can get you at least double the life out of a wornout baseball and can be used for a million other vital things, including its primary use as an insulator for electrical wiring.  Same thing goes for duct tape which is probably the greatest auto body repair product ever made!  (On a budget, anyway…)

Not only is Scotch Tape handy for taping pieces of paper together, it makes a dandy light-duty lamination material for preserving clippings or small photos; and it can be used for posting toddler art on the fridge, labeling things, removing pet hair and lint from clothing and for all sorts of arts and crafts.  Available in numerous varieties, one of the most popular ones is the “invisible” type that seems to disappear when pressed firmly onto paper or an object.

It is hard to imagine what modern life would be like without all these types of tape, especially Scotch Tape, the king of them all.  Question for students (and subscribers): Feel free to tell us your most interesting or innovative uses for tape are, as there are undoubtedly some interesting uses indeed, in the comments section below this article.

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Historical Evidence

For more information, please see…

Huck, Virginia.  The Brand of the Tartan: The 3M Story.  Appleton-Century-Croft, INc., 1955.

Unknown.  A Century of Innovation: The 3M Story.  3M Company, 1734.

The featured image in this article, a photograph by Improbcat of an antique Scotch brand package, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.


About Author

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.